So you'd like to...

Really know more about Allan Holdsworth?....(Part I).

A guide by Jesmorh "Jeffrey" (Mexico City.)

Products sampled from this guide:
Tempest Believe It Enigmatic Ocean

Hi! Welcome and Thanks for your interest to know more about Allan Holdsworth's career. Although I'm not a close friend or his personal biographer, I'm an old fan since 1976, when I heard the first solo fusion Bruford's album and the master Progressive recording "U.K."; first let me tell you about the recordings where A. Holdsworth has been temporary band member for other artists. As you will see, since 1969 Holdsworth has collected an amazing amount of recordings with recognized musicians, and now I present you the first part, from sixties to early eighties, of those historic moments (I bet you'll enjoy this):

:::::::::YEAR: GROUP: RECORDING:::::::::::::::

1. 1969 Igginbottom/ Igginbottom's Wrench.*
2. 1972 Ian Carr's Nucleous/ Belladona.*
3. 1972 Tempest/ Tempest.*
4. 1975 Soft Machine/ Bundles.*
5. 1975 Tony Williams Lifetime/ Believe it.*
6. 1976 Tony Williams Lifetime/ Million Dollar Legs.*
7. 1976 Gong/ Gazeuse!*
8. 1976 Esther Phillips/ Capricorn Princess.
9. 1977 Jean-Luc Ponty/ Enigmatic Ocean.*
10. 1977 John Stevens/ Touching On.
11. 1978 Gong/ Expresso II.*
12. 1978 Bill Bruford/ Feels Good To Me.*
13. 1978 U. K./ U. K.*
14. 1979 Bill Bruford/ One Of A Kind.*
15. 1979 Gordon Beck/ The Things You See/ Sunbird.*
16. 1979 Pierre Morlen's Gong/ Time Is The Key.
17. 1980 Didier Lockwood/ Live in Montreux
18. 1980 John Stevens/ Conversation Piece.
19. 1981 Soft Machine/ Land Of Cokayne.*
20. 1983 Jean-Luc Ponty/ Individual Choice.*
21. 1983 John Stevens/ Retouch.
22. 1984 Jon St. James/ Trasatlantic.
23. 1986 Soma/ Soma.
24. 1986 Krokus/ Change Of Adress.
25. 1986 Jon St. James/ Fast Impressions.
26. 1988 Gordon Beck/ With A Heart In My Song.*
27. 1988 Stuart Hamm/ Radio Free Albemuth
28. 1988 Stanley Clark/ If This Bass Could Only Talk.
29. 1988 Carl Verheyen Group/ No Borders.
30. 1988 Strange Advance/ The Distance In Between.
31. 1989 Alex Masi/ Attack Of The Neon Shark.
32. 1989 Various Arts/ Guitar For The Practicing Mucisian.

(Due to writting space limits, please see the rest of the list on part II of these guides. Thank you!)

The most interesting recordings as full time band member or session musician are signaled with (*), where you can clearly identificate and listen the different stages in the evolutive growing process of this revolutionary and visionary genius. As you could see, 70's seems to be the most prolific and trascendent decade for Holdsworth as a member for several groups, in spite of his desire to be part of just one band. I'm giving you only a little description of the most important discs of this period. So let's begin:

IGGINBOTTOM,Igginbottom's Wrench, 1969.
This recording presents a restless experimentation over a Jazzy rhythm based format that features a four men jazz combo that swings really hard into a fusion style at the end of sixties: sounds like a bebop/Free jazz fusion players with disonant harmonies and melodic voices on top by guitarist Allan Holdsworth, that is supported by Dave Freeman on Drums, Steven Robinson on guitar & vocals, and Mick Shelly on Bass. By the other side, the album features too, the first precedent for "Velvet Darkness", afterwards for "The Things You See" from I.O.U. album; song that passed through different incarnations, into different groups:

a) Golden Lakes (Igginbottom's Wrench, 1969)
b) Golden Lakes (The Things You See, 1976)
c) Shadows Of (Gazeuse!, 1976)
d) Velvet Darkness (Velvet Darkness, 1976).
e) The Things You See/When You Haven't Got Your Gun (I.O.U., 1985).

Allan Holdsworth & friends recorded an outstanding album plenty of fusion passages that shows the early style and real essence of a revolutionary genious of guitar playing that became the monster that we already know...

TEMPEST,Tempest, 1972.
In this Year groups like Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, institutionalized the PROGRESSIVE genre by all England; the still unknown Holdsworth shared credits w/Jon Hiseman on Drums (ex-Colosseum), Paul Williams on Vocals (ex-Juicy Lucy),Mark Clark on Bass and Ollie Hasall on second guitar; this recording seems to be a more formal intent to play in Progressive groups with an interesting Hard rhythm base, Prog-passages & lenghy improvisations (The previous intent was with Ian Carr's Nucleous),Belladonna, Or Solar Plexus / Belladonna. After this, A. Holdsworth and Paul Williams left the band, so the next effort "Living In Fear" was much pop oriented and with a gross lack of creativity.

SOFT MACHINE,Bundles,1975
Hazard Profile I, Gone Sailing & Land Of Bag Snake are the contributions to Soft's music: Experimental fusion with new Prog-textures and impressive acoustics due the flashy guitaristic speech of Holdsworth. This stage leaded to the never released recordings for BBC,BBC Radio 1971-1974,2003 and Floating World Live, 2006. The production,Land of Cockayne of 1981 showed a more experimented Allan Holdsworth that offered a great embellish solo work on two songs: "(Black) Velvet Mountain" and "Sly Monkey" in this Fusion album which resulted in a very interesting recording for the Holdsworth Fan.

TONY WILLIAMS,Believe It, 1975.
A. Holdsworth participated in the "Lifetime" project with his friend long time friend Tony Williams (drums), Alan Pasqua (Keyboards) and Tony Newton (Bass). The first result was "Believe It", an outstanding masterwork that crystalized solid rhythmic patterns with complex jazz textures (on "Million Dollar Legs" they experimented with Funky rhythms). Holdsworth, asumed the sax roll on the rhythmic base but interpreting solos with fresh abandon, free-lines that showed his ambiguity and unique growing style. Holdsworth talk about this period as one of the most happy days of his career. Top tracks: Proto-Cosmos, Fred, Snake Oil and Mr. Spoke. You can get this and The Million Dollar Legs both in Lifetime: The Collection

GONG,Gazeuse, 1976.
This title and Expresso 2, 1978 have experimental percussive textures oriented towards fusion , more than Progresive with superb acoustic and electric guitar material by Holdsworth again, who is years of distance far from Bon Lozaga's habilities (or Daryl Struemer Ponty's Enigmatic Ocean). Time Is the Key, 1979 is a solo recording by Pierre Moerlen's Gong; this effort had more progressive estructures helped by Peter Lemer's parts (polymoog and electric keys) and Hansford Rowe (Bass), whom gave it a more modern form to the sound recording. Gazeuse! Highligths: Night Illusion, Shadows Of and Mireille. Expresso II: Sleepy, Soli and Three Blind Mice. Time Is The Key: Arabesque Intro, Arabesque, Esnuria Two and Time Is The Key.

JEAN-LUC PONTY,Enigmatic Ocean, 1977.
The Fusion Jazz mainstream was growing and became in that was called the cruzeiro Jazz music. Jean-Luc Ponty had seen playing Holdsworth in studio sessions, so he just call him to play in Ponty's next album. Here Holdsworth share credits with Daryl Struemer that became in 80's Genesis guitarist. The music in this album is totally a stunning Fusion recording with jazzy brazilian flavor in a T.V.'s music format of 70's, with violin/guitar line arrangements a la Star Trek program series. Until early 80's Holdsworth turned back to record again with Ponty, that time Individual Choice, was an enigmatic recording which presented Progressive instrumentals with lot of Keyboards/violin passages embellished by the finesse Holdsworth's work in "Nostalgia" and "In Spite Of All", but all disc is impressive. Finally, in 2007 Holdsworth participated again in Ponty's latest released The Acatama Experience.

BILL BRUFORD,Feels Good to Me, 1977.
Bruford, Holdsworth, Berlin & Stewart arranged this beautiful gem. With this trascendent masterpiece recording they signaled new ways and roads to follow into the Prog-Jazz fusion mainstream. It really broke sonic barriers in and out this field. One of a Kind, 1979 was just the follow up to Feels Good...Kept the same lineup and presented outstanding percussive and guitaristic work, supported by great riff bass lines. Holdsworth describe this as "jigsaw" music 'cause he wanted more room to experiment and expand his style...Top interesting material: Beelzebub, Seems like A Lifetime Ago (Part two), Sample and Hold, Feels Good To Me, If You Can't Stand The Heat, Goodbye To The Past... But if you want to listen a 1979 great concert where Allan Holdsworth is playing a big amount of this material, just check Rock Goes to College.

JOHN STEVENS, Propensity, 1978.
The first time that Allan Holdsworth worked with John Stevens was in 1977, where a lot of material were recorded by the band in England. As a result of a lot of extended jam sesions and recorded rehersals were released: "Touching On" (1977); "Conversation Piece" (1980) and "Retouch" (1983)... But Propensity, that contains just two pieces: the acoustic "Jools" and the electric "It Could Have Been Mono", was originally planned as a mini EP. Recorded in 1977 and mixed in 1978 at Island Studios failed to see the light in the english market by the company problems but rescued it, and produced by Danny Thompson in 1997, now this EP is going to be release this year... It is well known that Allan Holdsworth does not approve all the John Stevens recordings, made with the pressure and the hurry of the moment, as he has explained, in a fast recording that might have some disgusting mistakes in the music of the band. That's why These CDs didn't appear in his official web page. But is really interesting listen these pieces of Allan Holdsworth's history...

U.K.,U. K., 1978.
There are no words to describe this Progressive myth, the exhuberant chemistry between Holdsworth, Bruford, Jobson, Wetton. This album has endured as one of the most well crafted "Progressive rock" efforts of history. Largely because Bruford's solid out of tempo rhythmic bases, Holdsworth melodic contributions and Jobson's dextresity and innovative sounds on synthesizer, reaching at once the maturity and musical status of supergroups like Yes, Genesis or E.L.P., They created this "Out of this World" masterpiece...But Holdsworth was unhappy with the results due the overwhelming leadership of Jobson/Wetton: Eddie wanted Allan to play exactly the same solo every night!...(nonsense!).Nowadays Eddie Jobson has produced the re-issue of Holdsworth's album "Road Games"...(!?). 2008 is the year of the releases Live in America and Live in America, featuring great songs from the Danger Money Album (1979) and from ASIAS's repertoire, recorded in the same year of a great bootleg called "THE ROAD TEST" from 1978 that contains "Forever Untill Sunday", from the Bruford's album "One Of A Kind"... Excellent!

GORDON BECK,Things You See, 1979.
This album presented very interesting material because the unppluged ambiance full of acoustic guitar stretches, fluid bizarre guitar and piano lines with disonant passages that made it an impressive exquisite masterwork. You can listen again theexperimental side of Holdsworth that highly contrasts with the textures of With a Heart in My Song album in 1988, where Holdsworth was still experimenting a lot with the synthax machine. "The Things You See/Sunbird" top tracks are: Golden Lakes, The Gathering, Diminished Responsability. "Golden Lakes" was taken from Igginbottom's Wrench and it's a similar version of the song "Velvet Darkness" from the album of the same name. On the Other side, contains a previus antecedent of the song "The Things You See (WhenYou Haven't Got Your Gun)" From the I.O.U. album in the version "At The Edge", while "With A Heart In My Song" presented a different version of "24 Duncan Terrace" from "Secrets" album...

Didier Lockwood ("Gathering Of Minds"),Live in Montreux, 1980.
Didier Lockwood Group: Didier Lockwood (Violin), Billy Cobham (Drums), Jack Bruce (Bass), Allan Holdsworth (Guitar) and David Sancious (Keyboards).

SOMA,Soma, 1986.
This is a kind of a straight rhythmic Rock recording with an abuse of over played keyboard arrangements and short but tasty sax licks, structured with some jazzy chord changes that creates for very little moments a kind of an electronic "prog" passages, plus an unorthodox vocal lines and choruses on top of it all; making this a tipical mid-eighties recording (the voices for moments reminds me the Tears For Fears musical esque).

Got out of the vaults this 2009, this SOMA release presents no credits inside the cover sleeve, so we won't know about the producers, engineers, musicians, or the place where the recording was made... but the only thing that is fot sure, is the participation of the guitarist Allan Holdsworth presented here in some tracks, aside another great english Rock musicians (?), adding some kind of fluid magic for the listeners. The highlights are the instrumentals "Lone Narcissus" and "Windburn"; and the non instrumental "The Grand Pajandrum". It's a shame that the excesive volume of keyboards on the mix didn't help anything the total sonic quality of the recording...

The tracks where Allan Holdsworth is making solos are: "Now Better Time Than Now", "Foray", "Because Always Comes The Moment", "A Little Hair Action" and the interesting track "The Grand Pajandrum", where A. Holdsworth not only played the solo but the rhythm riff as well.

THE EIGHTIES...
This was a very busy decade for Holdsworth because other artist wanted him to play like invited studio musician. Holdsworth was just allowed to play in one or two songs, so check it out if you'd like to...(1984) Jon St. James/ Trans-atlantic; (1986) Soma/ Soma; (1986) Krokus/ Change of Address; (1986) Jon St. James/ Fast Impressions; (1988) Stuart Hamm/ Radio Free Albemuth; (1988) Stanley Clark/ If This Bass Could Only Talk; (1988) Carl Verheyen Group/ No Borders Plas; (1988) Strange Advance/ The Distance Between; (1989) Alex Masi/ Attack of the Neon Shark.

For further reference, please watch the Part II of this guide or my Listmania List "ALLAN HOLDSWORTH: Masterworks!..." Thank you!

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Jesmorh "Jeffrey" (Mexico City.)
Qualifications: Univ. Professor and Musician.
Last updated: 2/5/11
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